Phil Ivey

Ivey League to Terminate Operations on May 1st

Ivey League, the poker-video training site centered on the persona of prominent poker pro Phil Ivey, has annouced that it will cease operations on May 1st.  Prorated refunds will be issued for customers of the site.

Ivey League management announced the pending closure in a terse message on its own poker forum:

With the current state of online poker as of May 1st we will no longer be posting new video content. The video library will remain online as we process prorated refunds for everyone who paid for yearly subscriptions. Month to month subscriptions can be cancelled anytime.

We would like to thank everyone who was a part of Ivey League and wish everyone the best with their poker journey’s going forward.

Team Ivey League

Though online poker is certainly a maturing market, the notice from Ivey League still rings hollow.  The larger truth is that the site never came close to what it claimed it would become.  It was too late to the game, too pricey for most of its target audience, and it appears that the site’s namesake, Ivey, lost interest in the project some months ago.

Ivey himself was never much of a volume producer of content for the site; that was left up to its other instructors.  From the time the site launched in early 2014, Ivey had managed to post something himsef at about a once-per-month rate, even if a third of the time it was something about his personal lifestyle instead of poker strategy.  All that ended last fall, however, with the last new Ivey content on the site appearing last September.

Whether such disinterest spread to continued funding of the site won’t ever be made public, but it’s a safe bet.  It’s unlikely the project ever reached profitability, and of course, Ivey himself remains enmeshed in prominent legal battles in New Jersey (US) and England, with the New Jersey case already having brought an eight-digit judgment against Ivey and a co-defendant.  Those cases may not be linked at all to the Ivey League’s closure, but if financing was tight and an unprofitable thing such as Ivey League was part of the picture… it wouldn’t be hard to jettison.

Though its demise is nigh, the Ivey League project did have its notable moments.  Among them was the launching of a free-play poker room, IveyPoker, probably with the idea of converting it to a real-money site if political opportunities (especially in the US) arose.  That never happened, and the free-play site was canned last than a year after its launched.

Ivey League also acquired the extensive library and brand recognition of an earlier, more successful training site, LeggoPoker, rolling that content into its own offerings.  Yet that wasn’t totally new, brought with it an extensive lineup of pros seeking ongoing compensation, and getting the new content online while achieving sufficint revenue appears to have been the real problem.

Ivey League also managed to snag a high-profile partnership with the Global Poker Index (GPI), though that appears to have been more of a promotional swap than any sort of financial deal.  The GPI’s sister business venture, the Global Poker League, has had its own financial difficulties, and while GPI/GPL parent company Mediarex and its founder, Alex Dreyfus, have shown promotional and marketing skills, there’s no evidence that similar marketing savvy existed at Ivey League.  Instead, the whole thing lumbered along almost invisibly, almost certainly bleeding away its initial investment funds.

One only needs to take a quick glance at Ivey League’s impressive lineup of pros to understand the larger picture, and see that it would take a healthy and contnuing stream of revenue to make the whole thing work.  As the site drifts off into oblivion, all these coaches are still on the roster:

  • Phil Ivey
  • Patrik Antonius
  • Cole South
  • Andrew Lichtenberger
  • Andrew Moreno
  • Brian Roberts
  • Chris Wallace
  • Dan Flower
  • Dan Myers
  • Daniel Schneider
  • David Yan
  • Denny Man
  • Drew Layton
  • Frank Calo
  • Greg Shahade
  • Griffin Benger
  • Jared Bartlett
  • Jerrod Ankenman
  • Joe Allis
  • Jonathan Jaffe
  • Josh Brikis
  • Justin Pechie
  • Kevin Vandersmissen
  • Mike Leah
  • Paul Chen
  • Paul Otto
  • Pawel Piotr Jablonski
  • Phil Shaw
  • Richard Sheils
  • Ronnie Bardah
  • Sonny Kamberi
  • Victor Vermeulen

That’s a ton of faculty seeking to be paid on an ongoing basis.  Other pro players have moved on from their gigs here in previous months, being no longer listed.

All in all, it doesn’t appear that “online poker” was the problem at all.  Instead, it was about a site that tried to run before it could walk.  That happens all the time in the business world.

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